ON 5 May, Australia commemorates the largest naval battle fought off our shores, the Battle of the Coral Sea.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the Battle of the Coral Sea had long been regarded as ‘the battle that saved Australia’ during the Second World War, ending Japanese attempts to take Port Moresby by sea.
“During the Second World War, the Japanese planned to cut Australia’s supply lines from the United States, despatching a fleet to capture Port Moresby as part of its advance into the Pacific,” Mr Chester said.
“Allied forces had cracked the main Japanese communication codes, and intercepted and deciphered radio messages regarding the attack.”
A US carrier force, supported by Australian cruisers and destroyers, moved into position to stop the Japanese, and in the waters south-west of the Solomon Islands and east of New Guinea between 4 and 8 May 1942 the Battle of Coral Sea took place.
“The battle, though fought at sea, largely took place in the skies. Aircraft from both sides fought valiantly, until the eventual turn-back of the Japanese due to high losses from US air attacks,” Mr Chester said.
“Though thankfully no Australians died, tragically more than 650 American lives were lost and the USS Lexington was sunk.
“Today we pay tribute to the brave service personnel who fought to protect us during the Second World War, specifically those who fought in the Battle of the Coral Sea.”